Ryan Nowlin has returned to his native Cleveland since earning two music degrees from Bowling Green State University. But a part of the teacher and composer remains at BGSU, as reflected in one of his recent works.
The BGSU Centennial Commission has named Nowlin’s “Sounds of the Centennial” the winner of the Centennial Fanfare Competition. As the celebration of the University’s first 100 years dawns, the fanfare will premiere at a BGSU Wind Symphony concert at 8 p.m. Friday (Jan. 22) in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.
“Many of my friends, alumni of BGSU, had informed me of the contest and encouraged me to enter,” recalled Nowlin, an instrumental music teacher in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools in Cleveland’s southern suburbs. “BGSU has had a profound impact on me, my life and my family. I decided I had to enter, as I owe much to this institution and her professors.”
Nowlin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University in 2000 and 2004, respectively, in music education and music education/conducting. He has also been a BGSU instructor in conducting and band scoring, as well as a staff arranger for the Falcon Marching Band.
Nowlin said he knew he wanted his centennial fanfare submission to be brief—only about two minutes long. “I wanted shadows and hints of the Alma Mater but no gratuitous or labored quotations,” he continued. “I wanted the piece to ‘feel’ like Bowling Green, almost a snapshot of the past 100 years and a forecast of the next. To do this, I chose to use frequent meter changes, flourishes and frequent builds in intensity and volume.”
“Nowlin’s fanfare stood out for the way it conveys a sense of energy and excitement and heralding of the University’s next century,” said Centennial Co-Chair Kim McBroom. “It recalls the past with a bit of solemnity but also chimes a celebration of the present. It’s a joyous piece of music.”
“Sounds of the Centennial” isn’t Nowlin’s first acclaimed fanfare. His “A Christmas Fanfare” is featured as the opening piece on “Snowed In … Again,” a Tower Brass Quintet CD. In addition, Andrew Pelletier, a 2005 Grammy Award winner and BGSU faculty member, premiered Nowlin’s “Elegy (for Herbert A. Spencer)” at the International Horn Society Summer Symposium in 2005.
He has been commissioned to write for brass quintet, tuba quartet, horn ensemble, and solo horn and piano, as well as for concert bands with members ranging from beginners to professionals. At Brecksville-Broadview Heights, he directs the high school wind ensemble, marching band, jazz ensemble and symphonic band, plus the eighth grade band, and assists with the seventh grade band.
Nowlin is also a staff arranger for the Kansas State University marching band. That came about after Kansas State’s director of bands—and fellow Cleveland native—Frank Tracz heard Nowlin’s charts through a mutual friend, Vince Polce. Another BGSU alumnus, Polce is retired director of bands at Defiance High School, where Nowlin did his student teaching.
For his work at BGSU, Nowlin has received the James Paul Kennedy Music Achievement Award, the Mark and Helen Kelly Band Award and the Faculty Excellence Award.
The Jan. 22 concert where his centennial fanfare will premiere is part of the 52nd annual Band Music Reading and Directors Clinic at BGSU.